PHOENIX — If there was a moment the Phoenix Suns needed shooting guard Devin Booker back the most, Friday night probably qualifies.
The Toronto Raptors are in town, looking like the best team in the Eastern Conference at 7-1 and the Suns’ best player has missed the last three games due to a strained left hamstring.
Not only that, but the Suns have lost six games in a row, a losing streak that has lacked much competitive play.
Looks like they are going to get the boost they so desperately need.
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The Suns announced after shootaround that Booker is probable to return, along with point guard Isaiah Canaan, who missed Wednesday’s loss to the San Antonio Spurs because of a left ankle strain.
“Feeling good,” Booker said after Friday’s shootaround. “Went through shootaround, was running full speed out there and didn’t feel much so I’m excited to get back and get out there.”
In Booker’s absence, the Suns have a 96.1 offensive rating, the second-worst mark in the league since he has missed time.
Head coach Igor Kokoskov said Booker has been putting in extra work before and after practice to make sure he’s as up to speed as possible for Toronto.
At the point guard spot, Kokoskov stayed committed to a fluid situation regarding who starts, but noted Canaan’s experience gives him an edge. Rookie Elie Okobo impressed in Oklahoma City when Canaan exited with the injury and started against the Spurs.
“When it comes to our situation we have flexibility where we can start any of our three point guards,” he said. “But if Isaiah is available there’s a good chance because of his experience that’s he going to be our starting point guard.”
While the Suns’ play hasn’t exactly been a glowing ray of sunshine with anyone specifically on the court, the return of Booker would reunite the team’s dynamic duo.
Among Phoenix’s 15 lineup duos that have played at least 75 minutes together, the 2.0 net rating Booker and rookie center Deandre Ayton have together on the court is the second-best number on the team.
That’s also the only pair with an offensive rating above 110, which is the side of the floor the Suns need to be at their best to start putting together some wins.
That’s imperative for a Phoenix team on a brutal skid to start the season, and no one knows how much a win over Toronto would boost the Suns back up better than Booker.
“It’s the NBA,” he said. “You’ve seen teams run off 5-10 wins in a row after one big win, you’ve seen teams lose five in a row. It’s the NBA. Everything kind of evens itself out.”
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